From the title of this post, it’s pretty clear that I hate Costco. *Gasp!* But it’s true. And trust me, hate is not a word I use lightly. But judging by the fact that Costco is apparently the 5th largest retailer in the U.S., my hatred of Costco is fairly unique. So, please hear me out. =)
What, Pray Tell, Do I Hate So Much?
There are tons of reasons of non-vendetta creating reasons that Costco rubs me the wrong way, like:
- The gargantuan lines for everything from the gas pumps to the check-out and everything in between
- The oversized packages that encourage us to over consume – take my Skinny Cow Dilemma and multiply it by a factor of 10 for Costco-sized packaging
- All the Costco stores are far away and require driving on roads with awful traffic patterns, which only makes the next seem even worse…
- Costco parking lots seem to be designed to slide in between Levels 4 and 5 in Dante’s Circles of Hell (For those who avoided this reading in Freshman English, that puts it right in between Level 4 housing those who “lived greedily and insatiably, or who stockpiled their fortunes, hoarding everything and sharing nothing” and Level 5 where the residents “are forever lashing out at each other in anger, furious and naked*, tearing each other piecemeal with their teeth.”)
- Why couldn’t they keep the name Price Club? It seemed like such a friendlier place when the stores were called Price Club.
But these aren’t really all that bad, and if shopping there really saved us money over watching for sales and clipping coupons from the Sunday paper, I might be tempted to give it another shot. But for this one thing.
Costco Tried To Screw With Our Credit
What?!? Okay, so here’s the backstory.
About a year before we got married, Mr. PoP needed tires for his car. Shopping around, Costco tires were the best deal – even after accounting for the fact that he would need to buy a membership to get them. So he did.
He bought a 1-year membership and bought some tires. And that was it. Or so he (we?) thought.
We went to Costco a couple of times during that year, since bulk protein powder was cheaper there. But our overall purchases were not enough to justify a membership if we weren’t going to be buying tires every year.
… fast forward to about 6 months into our marriage, and don’t forget, this was when Mr. PoP was making minimum wage, so the budget was tight …
We get a weird envelope that – honestly! – looked like junk mail, so I’m very glad that I didn’t just trash it. What was in the envelope, but a notice of collections saying Mr. PoP was past due on his American Express credit card. Back then, we didn’t have the AmEx Everyday Blue rewards card that we now use. We didn’t have any American Express card to my knowledge. So trying not to freak out, I asked Mr. PoP what was going on with his AmEx bill.
“What AmEx bill?”
What AmEx Bill, Indeed!?!
Calls with the collections agency got me the account number for the “AmEx card” that was in Mr. PoP’s name. Here, AmEx card is in quotes because in our eyes this thing never existed.
Costco signed Mr. PoP up for an AmEx, and then AUTO-RENEWED his Costco membership on that account. The overdue bill that was sent to collections was something like $80 (or $100? I can’t remember the exact number) that Costco had charged to auto-renew a membership we never used. This actually took a fair amount of unwinding to figure out, but basically it looks like something akin to this happened.
- Mr. PoP must have signed up for a Costco AmEx with his membership. Though he has no recollection of ever doing this, we do concede he probably did sign a dotted line at some point and an overzealous membership salesperson likely glossed over what he was actually signing up for on that page.
- Mr. PoP NEVER received an AmEx card in the mail.
- And obviously never called to activate any AmEx card. (AmEx could tell this from their records. The line I was fed was that the card was never activated, but somehow the account was activated by Costco? Weird, right?)
- We also NEVER received a bill from Costco saying that the membership we didn’t use would be auto-renewed. (We didn’t think that was a possibility since they didn’t have our credit card on file… or so we thought!)
- He also NEVER received an AmEx bill.
- Obviously, our first notice of this drama was from the collections agency.
Costco was kindof a jerk about it, too. It took several tries to get them to admit that we had not actively renewed anything and hadn’t been to Costco since we believed the membership was expired. But they finally agreed to take back the charge, and when the charge was waived the AmEx bill became $0, and was withdrawn from collections. So it worked out, but it was a complete pain in the butt.
I’m NOT saying Mr. PoP and I are totally blameless on this. After all, if I had pulled both of our credit reports when we first got married, there probably would have been an AmEx card listed on Mr. PoP’s report that could have initiated a discussion along the lines of:
“WTF is this AmEx card? Are you hiding stuff from me already?”
Okay, I don’t really talk like that. But you get the picture. We could have been more proactive on this and we weren’t. Our bad.
But I really hold it against Costco, too. (Hence, the vendetta.) Because how does an intelligent guy who just wants to buy some tires end up having a phantom credit card? To me, that means that their membership sales practices aren’t nearly as upfront as they need to be. (Or at least they weren’t in 2008. We haven’t been back recently to test them out.)
I know some of you out there, like Cash Rebel have had success with Costco. But I have a hard time getting past this and feeling okay about supporting a business that I feel has been more than a tad sketchy in its past dealings with the PoPs.
* Costo shoppers aren’t usually in the buff… Seriously…imagine that!
What’s your experience with Costco? Have you ever knowingly done business with a company that you feel is a bit sketchy?